martes, 27 de marzo de 2018

On Digital Literacy, Citizenship, and Leadership

Dear the 3C Community,

Upon returning from the AASSA Conference in Quito, I am thrilled to implement new ideas into the
classroom about fostering a growth mindset in students by teaching them about their brains, facilitating
deeper levels of questioning and reflections into the classroom, and incorporating future-focused
mindfulness practices in day-to-day classroom interactions. It's easy for us teachers to walk away
from education conferences with "information overload," so I spent the plane ride home (frightfully early
on Monday morning!) mapping out exactly how and when I will share all of this new information with our
students and with you. I am thrilled to get the ball rolling!

Upon landing in Buenos Aires and checking my email, however, I read a note about one of our third
graders experiencing an uncomfortable situation with a Google search, in which the student
unintentionally viewed content online that embarrassed them. I realized then that before all else,
I’d best address another theme from the AASSA conference with the class:  Digital literacy.
Or, more specifically, digital literacy, citizenship, and leadership - and what they mean to our classroom
community as students, parents, and teachers.

I attended a fabulous session about digital literacy and social media by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano,
digital learning specialist, author, and AASSA Social Media Coordinator, about this very topic. In her
session, Ms. Tolisano discussed how in situations such as those above, we as adults often shut down
internet resources out of fear and protection for our children. Situations like these make every fiber in
our bodies scream, "I don't like this! Shut that technology down!"

We feel this way because we want what is best for our children. We want to protect them. However,
if students don't learn how to access the internet and social media responsibly in school, then when
and how will they learn to use it?  In the long run, this approach does more harm than good. If our
students learn only to read and write but not also to access resources and communicate online, then
they are not truly "literate" for the 21st Century. As Ms. Tolisano asked, “If students know how to write
a five-paragraph essay but not how to access it or share it through a hyperlink with an audience who
now reads primarily online, then are they really literate?” This concept includes the abilities to research,
share, publish, and connect on all online platforms, from library sources and Google to Instagram and

In our 3C classroom, we discuss responsible internet use throughout the year, usually at the beginning
of each semester when students review Lincoln's Empowered Use Policy
(pages 9 and 10 of the ES Family Handbook).  We discuss what Digital Citizenship looks and sounds
like.  That is, we outline how students demonstrate respect and responsibility for both themselves and
others, since our online presence is simply an extension of who we are in the physical world.
From there, the class gains practice in digital literacy researching accurate information via Google on
online library resources, completing independent learning activities online through Google Classroom
and platforms such as Google and YouTube, sharing what they learn with others through classroom
social media accounts (Instagram and Twitter), connecting with experts to learn first-hand about related
topics via Twitter and Google Hangouts, and to make positive connections with others around the
globe (through activities such as Passion Time (also known as Genius Hour or 20% Time),
Global Read Aloud, Mystery Skypes, e-Pen Pals, and our Global Cultures Project, #Glocul - website
and further evidence of documented learning coming soon!).

Through these activities, students learn to advance from digital citizenship to digital leadership:  
They self-direct their learning, learn first-hand from experts and peers, and make positive connections
with others around the globe. Coming soon, they will also engage in a service-based Passion Time
Project that will demonstrate that we, no matter our age, can also use technology to make a positive
impact on the world!

As we navigate this course of digital learning, children have to fail in order to learn - just as they do in all
other topics. They will make mistakes when it comes to digital literacy and citizenship, just as they will
multiply and divide incorrectly, forget to use paragraphs to organize their writing, and struggle with word
meanings in a challenging text.  Online, they might say, read, or visit something that makes both them
and us uncomfortable.

But if we as adults stay open to this feeling of vulnerability through these feelings of discomfort and focus
our attention to the future, then we will know deep down that it is our responsibility to react to these
instances with the intention to promote digital literacy and citizenship. We will remember to use these
instances as growing opportunities for our children that will help them to grow as digital leaders.
As we roll into April, I invite you to engage in conversations at home with your child about the
folllowing topics on digital citizenship and leadership, as a follow-up to discussions that we are having
in class:

1:  What does "safe and responsible' internet use look like and sound like to us as a
2:  What does "safe and responsible" social media use look and sound like?
3:  How do we safely and responsibly use internet searches?
4: What do we do if we find ourselves in a situation online that makes us feel unsafe or uncomfortable?
5:  What does it mean to be a digital citizen? In what ways might we display respect and responsibility
for both ourselves and others when we use technology?
6:  What does it mean to be a digital leader? (In what ways are we using internet resources and
social media to deepen our learning, connect with others positively, and make a positive impact on
our world?)
7: Share some examples:  What are some examples of how we both have demonstrated positive
digital citizenship and leadership lately?
8:  What might be our next steps to demonstrate digital leadership?

In times where literacy is now defined by accessibility and navigation of online platforms, it's vital for
students to learn to access the internet and its resources responsibly as a learning tool, and to feel
both confident and safe while doing so.

When we take allow our students to engage with technology resources responsibly, we hand them the
tools for independent learning, positive global connections, and the power to have an influence for the
greater good.  When we take this risk, we empower them as not only digital citizens, but digital leaders.

Thank you for sharing in this learning experience with your child. Thank you for promoting digital
leadership and continuing this conversation at home. Thank you for your bravery.

Ms. Hodges

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